Bedrock of Civilization: The Family Is the First Natural Society from Which All Other Communities and Nations Spring, the Very Cornerstone of Civilization
Shibler, Ann, The New American
The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
--William Ross Wallace
William Ross Wallace was a poet, not an historian. Yet what historian would dare dismiss his famous dictum that "the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world"? Don't the youth determine the future? And aren't they deeply and permanently influenced by the hand that rocks the cradle?
Yet the history books say relatively little about the hand that rocks the cradle or about the family, compared to other subjects such as war and politics. There is a reason for this, and it does not have to do with child-rearing or family life being less important than the topics the historians do focus on. "We must remind ourselves again that history as usually written ... is quite different from history as usually lived," historian Will Durant said in his study The Lessons of History. "The historian records the exceptional because it is interesting--because it is exceptional." But the "interesting" and "exceptional" are not necessarily what ultimately determine the kind of world in which we live. Durant continued: "Behind the red facade of war and politics, misfortune and poverty, adultery and divorce, murder and suicide, were millions of orderly homes, devoted marriages, men and women kindly and affectionate, troubled and happy with children."
As Durant suggests in his reference to adultery and divorce, not all homes were (or are) orderly. But there is no doubt that throughout history, the fundamental unit of civilization has been the family. In The Mansions of Philosophy, Durant wrote: "The family has been the ultimate foundation of every civilization known to history. It was the economic and productive unit of society, tilling the land together; it was the political unit of society, with parental authority as the supporting microcosm of the State. It was the cultural unit, transmitting letters and arts, rearing and teaching the young; and it was the moral unit, inculcating through cooperative work and discipline, those social dispositions which are the psychological basis and cement of civilized society."
The family is not just "the supporting microcosm of the State," but is also the precursor to the state, the first natural society from which all others spring. According to the Old Testament, the ancestry of all of us can be traced back to Noah and his family, and before that to Adam and Eve. Their families grew to extended families and eventually to communities and nations encompassing many communities. The purpose of a national government, therefore, is not merely to safeguard the individual citizens comprising the nation, but even more fundamentally than that, to safeguard the family--the vital cell of society, the bedrock of civilization.
Accepted through faith and reason by most, the family is not only the fundamental unit of society, but, through marriage, an institution created and ordained by God. The family is meant to be that fundamental unit--the place where the parents perform the supernatural duty of child-rearing; the place where love and life are born, nurtured, and grow: and the place where values, faith, and traditions are passed on from one generation to the next.
Ultimately, the strength of a civilization is determined by the strength of its families and family values.
The importance of the family as the place where children first receive training in speech, general knowledge, notions of God and religion, respect for the rights of others, and social duties cannot be underestimated. Inside the home, it is the family that fosters and promotes lessons of fraternity, obedience, patience, self-sacrifice, self-control, duty, and responsibility. By suffering and rejoicing together, members learn pity, sympathy, gratitude, and faithfulness. It is in the family that the inalienable value of each human life is discovered and respected. …